Monday Book Club April Selection

Empress of IdahoOur Monday Book Club meeting, originally scheduled for April 6, is being converted to a “virtual” discussion of the book The Empress of Idaho by Todd Babiak via email. Members are being contacted and can participate via email. Non-members are welcome to add their comments to the blog!

About the book …

Monument, Colorado, July 1989. Fourteen-year-old Adam Lisinski is mesmerized the moment Beatrice Cyr steps into his life. Adam has a lot going for him: he’s hoping to be a starter on his high school football team, he has a fiercely protective mom, a girlfriend, and a part-time job at Eugene’s Gas Stop, where he works with his best friend. But he neglects everything that matters to him after Beatrice, his neighbour’s enigmatic new wife, comes to town. Soon he finds himself alone with her–in the change room at Modern You, a clothing store on Second Street; in the back row of the theatre at Chapel Hill Cinema; in the front seat of her truck. He’s confused about who she is, what she wants, and where she comes from. Adam is desperate, caught between wanting to spend time with Beatrice–whose past is catching up with her–and lying to everyone he cares about. The guilt overwhelms him. And when Beatrice convinces Adam’s mom to quit her job and partner in a risky real estate venture, he has to do something before everything spins further out of control. The plan he comes up with tests his courage and leads him to an unshakable truth about loyalty and love.

By turns riveting and tender-hearted, The Empress of Idaho is a story about the vulnerability and confusion of adolescence at the moment when it slams against adulthood. It’s an unforgettable portrait of a boy’s difficult coming of age.

About the author …

Author website

A CBC Radio Next Chapter interview with Todd Babiak

An Edmonton Journal book review

A Quill and Quire book review

Discussion questions (Penguin Random House reading guide)

Research article on female sexual predators

 

 

Monday Evening Book Club March Selection

The Monday Evening Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, March 9 in Forsyth Hall to discuss Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah with Winnie YeungHomes, a refugee story.

About the book

In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs, in Syria – just before the Syrian civil war broke out.

Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtapositions of growing up in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy – soccer, cousins, video games, friends.

Homes is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone with a passion for sharing his story and telling the world what is truly happening in Syria. As told to her by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, writer Winnie Yeung has crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and urgently necessary book that provides a window into understanding Syria. (Amazon)

About Winnie Yeung

Radio interview with Shelagh Rogers

Interview with Chuck Comeau for Canada Reads

Article in The Guardian

Article in the Edmonton Journal

Review in Quill and Quire

Review in Alberta Views

Book backgrounder for teachers

BBC News: Syria: The story of the conflict

Discussion questions

 

Monday Evening Book Club February Selection

Clock danceThe Monday Evening Drop-In Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, February 10 in the second floor Training Room to discuss the novel Clock Dance by Anne Tyler.

About the book

“Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory–surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places”– Provided by publisher.

About the author

An Interview with the author

Discussion questions

A New York Times book review

A Guardian book review

 

 

 

Monday Evening Book Club January Selection

The Monday Evening Drop-In Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on January 13 in Forsyth Hall to discuss the novel  Meet Me in the Museum by Anne Youngson.

mmim

About the book

From 70-year-old debut author Anne Youngson, a novel about a farmer’s wife and a museum curator seeking second chances.

In Denmark, Professor Anders Larsen, an urbane man of facts, has lost his wife and his hopes for the future. On an isolated English farm, Tina Hopgood is trapped in a life she doesn’t remember choosing. Both believe their love stories are over.

Brought together by a shared fascination with the Tollund Man, they begin writing letters to one another. And from their vastly different worlds, they find they have more in common than they could have imagined. As they open up to one another about their lives, an unexpected friendship blooms. But then Tina’s letters stop coming, and Anders is thrown into despair. How far are they willing to go to write a new story for themselves?

About the author

How to write a smash-hit debut novel at 70 (by the retired grandma who’s done just that)

The intimacy of letter writing: an interview with Anne Youngson

Interview with Anne Youngson

Review: Bonding over bog bodies in ‘Meet Me at the Museum’

Review in Kirkus

Tollund Man (Wikipedia)

Europe’s famed bog bodies are starting to reveal their secrets

 

Monday Evening Book Club November Selection

And after the fireThe Monday Evening Drop-In Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on November 18 in the second floor Training Room to discuss the novel  And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer.

About the book …

Susanna has the perfect New York City life: a great job, a loving husband and a beautiful apartment. But when a random act of violence tears it apart, she’s left to pick up the pieces alone. Just as she begins to feel whole again, her beloved Uncle Henry commits suicide—leaving behind a cryptic note that alludes to his haunting WWII experience as an Allied soldier in Germany . . . and something he took from the devastated country before returning home.

The daughter of the king’s Jewish banker, Sara is among the elite of Enlightenment-era Berlin. Beautiful, intelligent and a gifted pianist, she hones her musical talents under Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, son of Johann Sebastian Bach. They share a special bond, but while her life is just beginning, his is coming to an end. On his deathbed, Wilhelm bequeaths Sara the score of one of his father’s cantatas. Sara is stunned to see its violently anti-Semitic lyrics. Why did her beloved want her to have this horrifying document?

Weaving together the stories of Susanna and Sara, Lauren Belfer creates a majestic narrative that spans lifetimes and continents, encompassing both the best and the worst of the human spirit. The cantata’s troubled, riveting journey reveals that the two women have more in common than the score, and what Susanna learns may be the thing that can, finally, allow her to heal and move on.

About the author …

Lauren Belfer was born in Rochester, New York, and grew up in Buffalo, where she attended the Buffalo Seminary. At Swarthmore College, she majored in Medieval Studies. After graduating, she worked as a file clerk at an art gallery, a paralegal, an assistant photo editor at a newspaper, a fact checker at magazines, and as a researcher and associate producer on documentary films. She has an M.F.A. from Columbia University.

Lauren decided to become a writer when she was six years old. By the time she was in high school, her literary work was receiving rejection letters from all the best publications. Her first published short story was rejected forty-two times before it found an editor who loved it. Her second published story was rejected only twenty-seven times.

Her debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, as well as a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book of the Month Club. City of Light was a bestseller in Great Britain and has been translated into six languages.

Her second novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel of 2010 and an NPR Best Mystery of 2010.

Her third novel, And After the Fire, received a 2016 National Jewish Book Award.

Belfer’s fiction has also been published in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and Henfield Prize Stories. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post Book World, the Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere.

She lives in New York City.

A Conversation with Lauren Belfer

An interview with the author (Laurenbelfer.com)

Reading Group guide

Awards and reviews

Real People and Places in And After the Fire

Music from the novel

Was J.S. Bach anti-Semitic? A CBC Radio/Sunday edition interview

A Literary Couple grapple with Bach and his God (NYTimes article)

History of Anti-Semitism (Wikipedia)